6 states, 75 towns: Suburban man walking 1,700 miles to showcase unity

Chicago News

Have you ever wondered what it really means to meet in the middle?

One man from Mount Prospect took his message about meeting in the middle to the middle of the country.

He’s using patience, some listening skills and a pair of walking shoes to find common ground as he walks to Texas.

Six states, 75 towns and 1700 miles over 120 days. 55-year-old John Inserra is taking the walk of a lifetime.

From West Hope, North Dakota on July 4th to Hope, Texas, his mission is to find what keeps us all together, not what tears us apart.

He said he was inspired by 2020 and the most contentious presidential election in recent history.

Inserra had just retired from the restaurant and hospitality industry. And this summer he started a non-profit, For Our Shared Humanity or FOSH.

 “I do believe the differences are important. I’m not discounting those at all,” he said. “That’s what makes us very strong. But that shouldn’t be how we define ourselves all the time.”

Inserra does all the walking, but his small support team are camping with him, driving a chase car and documenting his 1700 mile journey down the center of the U.S.

Inserra said he’s relishing in everything along the way from windmills to rainstorms, railroad tracks to wildlife.

As he enters towns, he and his crew take a soft approach.

 “We have a motto,” Inserra said. “Letting them come to us. … The first thing I say to people is, ‘Hey, want to hear something crazy? I’m walking to Texas.”

Because to him the key to breaking the ice and eventually tackling the big topics starts with one thing.

 “The most important part is the connection,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what the color of your skin is, or creed is, political affiliation is.”

With each and every encounter there is a new bond.

 “We feel like these are friends for life,” he said of the people he meets.

Inserra earned a new respect for farmers too. And honed his skills when it comes to the art of the conversation.

 “I’ve learned that if you slow things down and you do look somebody in the eye and focus on what you have in common, the conversation is so easy,” he said.”

He doesn’t claim to have any answers. Inserra said he’s just willing to start the delicate conversations that maybe, just maybe, could lead to a solution or two.

 “As I’m making this walk, going through 75 different towns, all strangers to me, I have made thousands of friends, planted thousands of seeds of positivity and I believe that trickle will make a difference down the road,” he said.

Inserra plans to end the journey in Texas in late October. He hopes to turn this trip into a book and a documentary that can be shared in schools.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Popular

Latest News

More News